WORKING WITH BATTERED WOMEN: A Handbook for Health Care Professionals


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Reporting To Legal Authorities


Unlike with child abuse, reporting abuse of adults is not mandatory. To protect the patient's right to confidentiality and safety, reporting violence against an adult to the police or crown is therefore done only with the patient's knowledge and permission.

Police Involvement and Communication with the Police

Involving the police may enable the patient to feel more power in the situation and may also act as a deterrent to further abuse, at least in the short term. Hospital records that are complete and clearly written facilitate legal proceedings. Often the hospital record itself is sufficient and there is no need for hospital staff to be further involved. But do not involve the police against the patient's wishes.

  • If police are already involved, document the officers' names and identification numbers.

  • If police are not involved, offer to have them come to the emergency department.

  • Advise the patient that a statement can be given to the police even if considerable time has passed since the event.

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